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5 Total Votes
You missed the real reason we need anti-trust laws by lm (3.66 / 3) #1 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 02:32:42 AM EST
The free market of perfect competition that neo-classical supply/demand price theory requires to operate doesn't exist. But by selective legislation, we can create something that approximates it.

Consequently, firms that wield a certain degree of monopoly power must be restricted in ways that firms that do not are not.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Er by theantix (4.00 / 1) #16 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:56:00 AM EST
I did not miss that point, it was near precisely the point I was trying to make.  Except that I don't quite agree that perfect competition doesn't exist as you do, by my estimation many markets and perhaps even most are competitive enough for the neo-classical supply/demand price theory to function adequately.  But when they cannot because of monopoly power, selective legislation is required to combat this to attempt to move close to that market type.


[ Parent ]
Well, I guess I missed your point then by lm (2.00 / 0) #23 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 11:30:54 AM EST
But I think that maybe we're not on the same page as far as natural markets, though. It seems to me that history teachs us that monopoly power is a natural and ubiquitous phenomena except where discouraged by law.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
We agree more than you think by theantix (2.00 / 0) #28 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 02:03:18 PM EST
I would say that commodities which are not fixed to specific geographic constraints such as grain, beef, etc pretty much conform to the theoretical pricing models of supply and demand (except as influenced by government intervention such as subsidies and tariffs).  And to a lesser degree, highly substitutable products which are not covered by patents such as soap, paper, etc also conform to the classic and famous model with little monopolistic pressure.

The cases where that pricing model break down are many, but they are not omnipresent -- which seems to be our only real area of disagreement.  The more important matter is if government regulation should attempt to increase the degree to which markets behave like the classical model, which we both seem to agree on.


[ Parent ]
I'll agree to most of that by lm (2.00 / 0) #34 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 04:16:05 PM EST
... but I'll also observe that the massive amounts of branding in the soap industry suggest that even those markets aren't all that close to fitting the neoclassical model.

And it may be also relevant that other models exist that fit the available evidence far more closely.

Curiously, one market that fits the neoclassical market to a T is the stock market.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Right by theantix (2.00 / 0) #37 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 11:28:08 PM EST
Branding and other perceived quality differences (whether right or wrong) are what I was referring to when I suggested that those markets perform less like the classical model than outright commodities.  But still, at least in the case of soap new entrants to the market have generally low barriers which helps keep at least a rough version of the traditional supply/demand pricing model intact.  At least close enough so that quantities are sufficient and products are available for non-exorbant prices (even if some choose to pay more for branded items).


[ Parent ]
Seems a little verbose by Rogerborg (4.00 / 2) #2 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 02:33:38 AM EST
In a truly free market, nobody would ever need more than 640K of RAM.  Or else.

-
Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
more ram just encourages sloppy coding [nt] by theantix (4.00 / 1) #18 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:58:54 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Good points for intervention. by ambrosen (4.00 / 2) #3 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 04:38:58 AM EST
There is a cost to innovation if intervention is untrammelled.

Think of the confiscation of Russian gas companies or the poorly handled collapse and renationalisation of Britain's* railway infrastructure. The former is deeply discouraging to business, and the latter is a pretty poor thing to show for a genuinely competitive thriving privately funded industry.

I agree. by NoMoreNicksLeft (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 05:06:16 AM EST
So we revoke their corporate charter, dissolve the company and sell off its assets, and give that back to the shareholders. For the IP assets, let's license it to at least two other buyers, to prevent the same thing happening again.

We fine everyone who sat on Microsoft's board of directors, oh, say $500 million, and we forbid them from ever sitting on the board of another company. And then, we pass legislation that all government computers be windows-free within 5 years, just for the hell of it.

That oughtta do the trick.
--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

Simpler solution by lm (4.00 / 2) #6 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 06:08:58 AM EST
Do away with the corporate veil.

If shareholders are liable for the actions of the companies in which they hold shares in proportion to their holdings, then shareholders will have a vested interest in holding the board of directors accountable. But as it stands, shareholders get all of the benefits of owning stock while the state absorbs the true risk of holding stock.

Once upon a time, the corporate veil may have been necessary. But presently, the insurance industry has matured enough to be able to handle the load if the corporate veil is done away with. If people want to own stock, let's let them pay the real price of investment through either uncovered liabilities or buying their own insurance.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Won't work. by NoMoreNicksLeft (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 07:21:32 AM EST
They still have the protection of the corporate attourneys.

In what antitrust action would they have actually encountered some penalty? In fact, what would that penalty be, other than a fine? Are we going to imprison all shareholders? It's bullshit. Any fines are yet another cost of business. Who in their right mind would try to hold Gates accountable, or Ballmer or the other assholes, when the small cost of the fine is no where near the profit that can be made by acting the way they do?

No, we simply need to allow corporate charters to be revoked for any reason, and even for no reason at all. No need for antitrust trials, but when the 5 years is up, let the state legislature vote on it (rather than some bureacracy that can be bribed). Sure, they can be bribed too, but they can also be voted out of office, and then the next time it comes around, boom. Wouldn't even have to be used, no shareholder would invest in a company that even has this threat hanging over them.
--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

[ Parent ]
Do not underestimate the power of the fine by lm (4.00 / 1) #12 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 07:26:42 AM EST
The problem is a lack of accountability. The solution lies in finding a way to make corporate boards accountable.

Now imagine for a moment each of Microsoft's shareholders having to pay out a $1,000 fine. I think that the shareholders will suddenly have a reason to care about all those proxy ballots that most investors presently toss with the junk mail.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
not with the current setup by garlic (2.00 / 0) #39 Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 04:37:19 AM EST
because a) the board gives you little to no choice on the proxies and b) most stocks are held by other corporations, not by individuals, besides the employees of the company.


[ Parent ]
But you're presuming the current set up by lm (2.00 / 0) #40 Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 05:55:02 AM EST
Consider for a moment /why/ the board has such control over proxy ballots. The control stems from a single fact, the shareholder has little interest in the results as long as returns are sufficient. The shareholder has no liability if the board does something intentionally illegal. Consequently, the shareholder has no motivation to hold the board accountable for anything other than financial performance.

But if shareholders are liable past the monetary amount of their investment, suddenly the shareholders have a reason to pay attention. For investors, this would probably mean buying liability insurance which would prompt underwriters to investigate corporate boards and either refuse to underwrite policies or increase premiums for certain corporations based on who was on their board, the rules for placing people on the board, etc. In either case, if an Enron happens you've got the creditors getting their money back from the shareholders instead of energy consumers  paying higher prices all over the US.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Question by ks1178 (2.00 / 0) #15 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:52:18 AM EST
If the share holders are liable for the board doing illegal acts, should the people that held shares in Enron be held liable too?

Or is the fact that they lost money when the shares plummeted counter-act the fine?

But if that's the case, almost any fine leveraged against a company would also accompany a decrease (at least in the short term) of the stock price.

So where do you draw the line?

[ Parent ]
The point is that you don't draw the line by lm (4.00 / 1) #21 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 11:28:51 AM EST
If a group of people get together on the street and plan out a raping and pillaging, they can all be held liable both criminally and civilly, jointly and individually for all of the damage they caused. If that group convinces individuals to fund their rampage, that individuals may also be held liable.

How is an Enron any different?


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Because the illegal actions of the few by ks1178 (2.00 / 0) #24 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 12:08:29 PM EST
at top, ruined the people who had invested in the company, and lost lots of their savings when the company went under.

So, under your scheme would the stock holders also be held liable because of the illegal accounting practices used to artificially inflate the stock prices, giving them confidence in the company to further invest more money (under false pretenses that the stock holder has no control over) in the company?

[ Parent ]
Yes, exactly by lm (4.00 / 1) #25 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 12:21:26 PM EST
Enron only happened because the state is willing to assume the risk that investors ought to have been assuming. This leads to ``hands off'' investors that pay no attention to the books. If investors had been putting their butts on the line, you can better believe that Enron would have had real audits long before the feds stepped in. It is doubtful that the people running Enron would have ever ended up running Enron if shareholders were actually paying attention to proxy ballots.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Call me crazy by ks1178 (2.00 / 0) #26 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 12:32:05 PM EST
But the state didn't step in and pay off all of the laid off employees 401k's and re-imburse the shareholders whose shares went down the drain over night.

For that reason alone, the shareholders should demand better audits and such to protect their investments. And because of that I don't feel too bad for the people that lost their shirts.

But from what you said above, the common employee, and other share holders who had money invested in Enron, should also be on trial with Lay and friends?

[ Parent ]
Not unless you can prove criminal negligence by lm (4.00 / 1) #27 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 01:03:40 PM EST
In Enron's case, a criminal case isn't very clear, but I do think that it is true that Enron's creditors should be able to go after Enron's shareholders individually in proportion to the amount of Enron stock that they owned at the point in which Enron declared bankruptcy.

But nobody lost their shirts due to Enron's bankruptcy. Their loss was limited to the amount of money that they invested. Large shareholders of Enron ought to have lost the shirts off of their backs. Instead, energy consumers across the country ended up paying higher prices to eat the risk that ought to have belonged to Enron's shareholders.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Employee's by ks1178 (2.00 / 0) #30 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 02:48:56 PM EST
What about the employees who were advised by the company to put all of their 401k savings into Enron, and yes, they did end up losing lots of their retirement savings when Enron went bankrupt.


[ Parent ]
Exactly, they lost the money they invested by lm (4.00 / 1) #33 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 04:12:18 PM EST
No more, no less.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Turn it around by Rogerborg (2.00 / 0) #38 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 11:51:21 PM EST
If they could have been held liable, would they have held shared in Enron.

Shareholder liability rewards ethical companies.

Good heavens!

-
Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.

[ Parent ]
Well written by cam (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 05:41:18 AM EST
Definitely worth staying up to write. Unfortunately you are probably preaching to the choir here. That article is of good enough quality that you should try publishing it on other websites/journals/publications. It is a pretty good introduction for the non-techy who hasn't had to deal with Microsoft beyond buying grandma a new PC.

cam
Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

thanks [nt] by theantix (2.00 / 0) #20 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 11:14:37 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Microsoft by Man (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 06:21:51 AM EST
The OS/2 debacle is an even better example of Microsoft anti-competitive behavior than the Netscape thing.

So is DR DOS by lm (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 06:27:27 AM EST
But this is ancient history to most consumers. They don't see how those battles apply to them any more than Caesar crossing the Rubicon.

But Netscape is still something of a household word. The brand remains strong even though the browser is effectively dead.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I like the netscape example by theantix (2.00 / 0) #19 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 11:14:09 AM EST
If only for the reason that it has the example that Microsoft released a browser for various other OSes until their market share became sufficient to let IE become a driver for Windows adoption.  Pretty much classic monopolistic behaviour, and is their regular pattern.

Their unit-based pricing strategy for PC makers is another good example though, most certainly -- is that what you meant by OS/2?


[ Parent ]
Lots of things by Man (4.00 / 1) #32 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 02:59:30 PM EST
There were lots of things they did in the war with OS/2, but yeah, one of the big ones were the deals to keep any retailer from shipping with it.

[ Parent ]
Confused by Doctor Logic (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 07:12:20 AM EST
Microsoft-Internet Explorer
Mac - Safari

What's the difference?
--------------
Ma-ia-hee / Ma-ia-hu / Ma-ia-ha /Ma-ia-ha ha

The reason for bundling is quite different by lm (2.00 / 0) #13 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 07:34:01 AM EST
Apple, owning 5% of the market or less, created Safari and bundled it with OS X because at the time there was no good web browser for OS X.

Microsoft, owning 90% of the market or more, created Internet Explorer and bundled it with Windows to kill off Netscape.

Do note that the anti-trust suit against Microsoft wasn't solely over the bundling of Internet Explorer, but also over anti-competitive practics such as offering discounts on Windows to OEMs who didn't bundle Netscape's Navigator product.

Also note that, as described in TFA, companies that hold a certain level of monopoly power can be required to act differently than those which don't.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
For the answer by theantix (4.00 / 1) #17 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:57:20 AM EST
WIPO by Vulch (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 07:20:06 AM EST

RYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRY

+1FP by calla (4.00 / 1) #14 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:13:11 AM EST
I couldn't even hit all the links, but appreciate that you put them there.


thanks! by theantix (4.00 / 1) #31 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 02:58:26 PM EST
Did you mean the links were broken, or you didn't have time?  If the latter, I completely understand.  :-)


[ Parent ]
Not enough time in my day by calla (4.00 / 2) #36 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 08:15:57 PM EST
to hit all the links.

This article is a good use of your time waiting.


[ Parent ]
This comment is only marginally related by skippy (2.00 / 0) #22 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 11:30:46 AM EST
to the article in that I was wondering wtf you've been lately.  It was getting to the point where I was going to have to post an "attention theantix infidel" to see if you were still alive.

I assume that this "#husi" that you speak of is some sort of neo-communist think-tank.

yeah I haven't posted in a while by theantix (4.00 / 1) #29 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 02:10:05 PM EST
I'm in town this weekend though, will call about doing something saturday/sunday if you're up to it.

#husi on slashnet.org, and yes you're pretty much right about it.


[ Parent ]
Ooooh, spiffy! by skippy (2.00 / 0) #35 Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 05:44:26 PM EST
We'll definitely have to meet up with you folks this weekend.  A friend of The Wife's is probably coming over Saturday night, but I know Sunday is definitely free.

[ Parent ]
Bah! Bundling by ajf (2.00 / 0) #41 Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 02:59:53 PM EST
Microsoft may have intended to wipe out Netscape with bundled Internet Explorer, but what really killed Netscape was that Netscape 4 was a shithouse product. I'm all for limiting monopoly power, but sometimes I think people underestimate Microsoft's competitors' tendency to shoot themselves in the foot.

"I am not buying this jam, it's full of conservatives"
right by theantix (4.00 / 1) #42 Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 03:19:10 PM EST
I cannot make this more clear: I do not feel sorry for Netscape in the slightest.  You are correct, they shipped a lousy product and their demise was faster than it would have otherwise been because of that.  But regardless of how good or bad Netscape performed, Microsoft acted anti-competitively and harmed the market for browsers which in turn hurt the PC consumers in the way I described.


[ Parent ]
Netscape was just one browser among many by lm (2.00 / 0) #43 Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 09:03:56 PM EST
Prior to the bundling of IE with Windows, everybody and their brother was making a web browser. Netscape may have been the gold standard up through v4, but quite a few smaller companies had their products rendered irrelevant due to IE.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Outlook is available on the Mac by fluffy (2.00 / 0) #44 Sun Feb 26, 2006 at 10:42:00 AM EST
It's just called "Entourage." And it's still a ginormous pile of crap.
--
ceci n'est pas une signature
i like plaid
They are similar, but not the same by theantix (2.00 / 0) #45 Sun Feb 26, 2006 at 08:48:43 PM EST
There are versions of Word, Excel, etc for the Mac.  Other than my suggestion, that MS wants to discourage corporate usage of MacOS, what other explanation is there for them choosing to not launch a compatible version of Outlook?  Given their past and other current behaviour, I find it hard to believe that a more spectacular explanation is more likely.


[ Parent ]
Same can be said for Office X vs. Office XP by fluffy (4.00 / 1) #46 Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 12:01:09 PM EST
"Similar, but not the same."
--
ceci n'est pas une signature
i like plaid
[ Parent ]